Mum’s the word

Welcome to Part 3 of Rach M’s engagement story.  It kicked off with Something’s Coming, and it’s had many of you hooked.  Even when we suspect we know the ending, the lessons Rach has learned are crucial in how to survive this kind of intense family pressure.  I, for one have never heard of or had to experience anything like it.  Readers, have you?


Over to you, Rach.  (Oh, and happy birthday!):    

I’ve mentioned before that my Mum and aunts (the Marys) were all very keen for me to get engaged. After two years of being with M, I turned 30 ringless and speculation ramped up a notch. A book was started on the odds of my spinsterhood.The phonelines between London and rural Ireland hummed. The summer that followed, M and I had five weddings to go to. Five.
“Do you not think he’d take a hint from it?’ said Mum.
“Shut up” I replied.
I had to navigate my way through all of this expectation carefully. The more pressure Mum was putting on me, the more stressed I was getting and then even I started to get crabby and cross with M. It took a great force of will to step away from my Mum and realise that if I didn’t shut my ears to it then I’d start to doubt what we had, which might in turn jeopardize what we had, thus defeating the point utterly.
Following my sulk on the plane back from the Big Apple, M told me it would happen within two years, which was good enough for me. (I realise I am not a good role model here – sulks shouldn’t get you want to hear, but I can’t lie, on this occasion, it worked.)
I reminded Mum of his ‘two year’ promise during one particularly heated exchange in Costa Coffee last summer, where she banged on about his intentions through a cappuccino moustache and I stuck my fingers in my ears and stamped my feet, scaring the lunch crowd. She was wrong. M was as good as his word.
We’d been planning a trip to Italy last autumn, and about five days before we left for Tuscany, I called my Mum one lunchtime. She sounded distracted.
Are you smoking again? I asked, curious about the deep breathing at her end.
I dunno should I tell ya…? she said.
The answer to this, O reader, in hindsight is No. No you shouldn’t. But I didn’t know that at the time.
“M is after calling here and asking if he can come and see myself and your father tomorrow.”
I stood stock still, speechless in the middle of High Holborn, commuters ploughing into the back of me.
“Right.”
“I shouldn’t have told you,” she said, voice rising to a low-pitched wail.
“Well, you have.” I said, matter-of-factly.
“He didn’t say it was a SECRET!!!” she said, almost indignant. That without the rubber-stamping of secret she was free to say what she liked when she liked.
“Think about it Mum. How many times in our lives is he ever going to organise visiting you without me?”
However she screamed with horror at the idea of me telling him she told me (stay with me reader, you almost need a wallroom to map this lot out).
“A-ha!” I said, raising a Sherlock finger in the street and wagging it at my phone, ‘something tells you it’s not a tellable thing – it’s OK for you to tell me, but not me to tell him! So you shouldn’t have told me!”
By this point I must’ve looked like a madwoman, ranting and raving in the street on an October Monday lunchtime.
“I don’t know why the young people make such a fuss about these things,” she said. “We didn’t do it in my day.”
“But it’s traditional!” I said, nearly in tears and by this point, banging my head against the sandwich cabinet in Boots.
You see one thing that M hadn’t learned at this point, because he hadn’t had to yet, was you don’t tell my Mum secrets. If you do, it’s your fault for telling her, not her fault for saying it because she is completely unable to keep it to herself.
So we entered into a farcical few days in the run up to holiday when I pretended not to know that he was going all the way out to suburbia (3 hour round trip on the train, plus I have it on good authority that he stayed for almost 2 hours) to ask for my hand in marriage.
In the days before we flew to Tuscany, Mum and I had a few more conversations, where she was trying to get me to promise never to tell him, (vetoed, obviously, as if I’d start us off on a lie, however ridiculous), another where she called me up crying about having spoiled my surprise, really wanting me to tell her everything was fine, and getting gradually more cross when I wouldn’t. I didn’t keep banging on about it, I was just matter of fact, all ‘well now I know so let’s just get on with it. “ One thing that I kept saying to her over and over was – he wouldn’t want this, he wouldn’t want for this to have caused so much stress and upset. What he was doing was romantic, really romantic.
Some particularly wicked streak in me made me ask him what his plans were that day.
“I’ve got a band rehearsal” he said, pottering around our kitchen, not catching my eye. I looked over at our cat Mouse, sat on our stairs watching us both suspiciously. “He’s not really!” I mouthed at him. Mouse stretched, still staring at me, sniffing at the slyness we’d surrounded him with.
“I’m off for a manicure,” I said, kissing the top of his ears. “Don’t tell anyone.”
He, at least, didn’t.
You can’t get much past Mr Mouse
Coming soon…Part 4!
Categories: Engagement, Family, Friends and Relationships
15 interesting thoughts on this

14 Comments

  1. Posted February 14, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    Oh my Gosh! Someone else!! My chico called my dad to ask him for my hand (he was living abroad) and then my dad told my mum and my mum told me! Mums, eh?

  2. Posted February 14, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    f*ck. Blogger ate my comment. Not sure I can manage to recreate it.

    Basically, I said something like it must be difficult if you can't be sure your mum won't be indiscreet with information, as there are some difficult circumstances which require a mum's input and support, but which can't be revealed. Tough decision whether to talk and get the support and run the risk, or keep quiet.

    There was a bit more to it than that, but I can't type it all again now.

    Looking forward to part 5.

  3. Posted February 14, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    I love this story.

  4. Becca
    Posted February 14, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    I made my Mum promise me so when he looked into my eyes I didn't have a stray eyebrow hair waving around in the breeze and could get a manicure. He never asked my Dad's permission. I was wearing pajamas with chinese food on (beef in black bean sauce).

    I told my Mum we were going to look at rings but I wasn't supposed to tell anyone until we had one and could tell parents together atthesametime but I COULDN'T KEEP IT IN and she got really stroppy with me and said I shouldn't have told her (not the response I wanted).

    Something tells me that me and your Mum would be great gal pals.

  5. Abi Lady HarHar
    Posted February 14, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    Ha Ha

    My Mum sounds exactly like your Mum! I loved the bit about it being your fault if you tell her a secret not hers for telling it!

    However, she did manage (somehow) to keep it a secret from me… just meant that my sister also knew before me and the week between M asking Dad and us going away, they were both a bit exictable when I was going away… I didnt twig though, because they both can be a bit mental at the best of times :) Love this story

    Just to elaborate on Mums inability to listern this is a very recent conversation with her regarding some friends she had seen who were asking about gifts (invites havent gone out yet…)

    Mum: I've told them to get you Marks and Spencers vouchers
    Me: But Mum we're really not bothered about gifts but would rather some money towards honeymoon
    Mum I'll tell them Thomas Cook then
    Me: We're not booking through Thomas Cook,we're going to look into it after the wedding
    Mum Well I cant tell them John Lewis because they dont have one in Devon
    Me: Look Mum, invites will go out soon and I'll put something in there ok
    Mum: Dont worry I'll tell them Marks and Spencers vouchers….

    WHAT IS THIS OBSESSION WITH MARKS AND SPENCERS????

  6. Abi Lady HarHar
    Posted February 14, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    Ha Ha

    My Mum sounds exactly like your Mum! I loved the bit about it being your fault if you tell her a secret not hers for telling it!

    However, she did manage (somehow) to keep it a secret from me… just meant that my sister also knew before me and the week between M asking Dad and us going away, they were both a bit exictable when I was going away… I didnt twig though, because they both can be a bit mental at the best of times :) Love this story

    Just to elaborate on Mums inability to listern this is a very recent conversation with her regarding some friends she had seen who were asking about gifts (invites havent gone out yet…)

    Mum: I've told them to get you Marks and Spencers vouchers
    Me: But Mum we're really not bothered about gifts but would rather some money towards honeymoon
    Mum I'll tell them Thomas Cook then
    Me: We're not booking through Thomas Cook,we're going to look into it after the wedding
    Mum Well I cant tell them John Lewis because they dont have one in Devon
    Me: Look Mum, invites will go out soon and I'll put something in there ok
    Mum: Dont worry I'll tell them Marks and Spencers vouchers….

    WHAT IS THIS OBSESSION WITH MARKS AND SPENCERS????

  7. Posted February 14, 2012 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    Abi – that's hilarious but at least with M&S; vouchers you can spend them on yummy food!

  8. Posted February 14, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    Thanks ladies! Abi you made me howl with laughter, I think your Mum and mine would get on like a house on fire! R xx

  9. Posted February 14, 2012 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

    My husband managed to talk to my mom, my two best friends, and my aunt about marrying me – all without me knowing. I guess they can all keep a secret.

    What was funny is that my dad brought up the fact that my hubby never talked to him directly – because my mom said he did not have to – at the wedding. lol

  10. Sarah
    Posted February 14, 2012 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    Can Rachel's mum have her own AOW slot please? She sounds brilliant!
    Another great post from Rachel x

  11. Posted February 14, 2012 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

    This is properly hilarious. I love it. I love the fact the mum is Irish, too. I imagined that scene from Father Ted when all the old ladies are communicating via every means possible (Morse code, telephone exchange) about the imminent visit of Eoghan McLove for some reason….

  12. Posted February 14, 2012 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    Ha, I love Rachel's Mum. Brilliant. :-D

    When we told my Dad we were engaged his response was "well, no-one asked me"… G had to buy him off with a very small box of chocolates. That's right, my Dad sold me into marriage for 4 chocolate truffles.

    K x

  13. Posted February 14, 2012 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    LOVE THIS SO MUCH, HURRY UP NEXT INSTALMENT!

  14. Jennie
    Posted February 17, 2012 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

    This is brilliant, I'm reading it through tears of laughter! I feel truly honoured to say that Rach is one of my best friends. And her mum is exactly as she has described! X

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Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

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